Since taking office in January, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's hires have been mostly female and mostly minorities — the last mayor's government was not. The New York Times reports that de Blasio's hires are 54 percent female (as opposed to 48 percent under Bloomberg) and 55 percent non-white (compared to a noticeably lower 28 percent non-white under Bloomberg).
When he was elected, de Blasio said his goal was to create an administration that “looks like New York City.” That was an underlying theme of his whole campaign, including his commercial featuring his biracial son Dante. De Blasio's family — specifically their hair — led The Washington Post to write that "in navigating the hair politics in his own house, de Blasio has an intimacy with black culture that most white politicians don’t." That means people will judge him harder on the make-up of his team. So far he “has done what he said he would do,” said Kate Taylor, a Times reporter. “It’s an administration that looks more like New York City than Bloomberg’s did.”
Still the general sense among people watching the mayor's choices is that this is a good start, not the end of the line. Earlier this month am New York analyzed the administration hires so far, noting that the 39 officials in charge of actual policy decisions are a less diverse group than the overall team. Some advocates also point to a low number of Asian members of the administration. "The dearth of Asian-Americans and minorities in general appointed to high-level positions in the de Blasio administration is, to be kind, noticeable," John Liu, a former city comptroller, said. LGBT advocates have also said they're happy that lesbian, gay and bisexual representation but want the "hiring of transgender and gender-nonconforming individuals."
But de Blasio's diversity troubles have extended beyond his administration. New York's schools are very segregated. The New York Fire Department had a total of 100 women in FDNY uniforms out of a total of over 10,000 in January, according to The Daily Beast. At the time spectators wondered in de Blasio would hire a woman as FDNY commissioner, but a month later the position was still held by a Bloomberg appointee. Questions over de Blasio's commitment don't have much bite, but accusations that he's slow to make new hires do.
Last month he had over a dozen spots to fill, prompting some to say he has a "slow and deliberative" leadership style, according to The New York Observer. “I think that some individuals have tried to create a certain image, a certain stereotype," de Blasio countered. "I think it’s absolutely unproductive to attempt to always minimize people that way." Earlier this week, four weeks later, he hired Pauline Toole to oversee the Department of Records.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.